Fatal Inertia EX Demo Review

By Mike on 11:24 am

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There are rare cases out there in which a port can actually be better than it's original. Especially if the developer goes in and retools the code to fix the issues, since porting usually exacerbates them. This is the case of Fatal Inertia, originally an Xbox Live game that has been ported to the PS3. Where as the original XBL version was considered a passable mess, the PSN version is actually a pretty solid improvement. Without having played the original XBL version, I'm relying on hearsay so lets get down to business for the PS3 version.

Fatal Intertia EX is an anti-gravity racer. I'd call it a combination of Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer and WhipEout. Like the N64 classic, the tracks aren't linear but rather diverse "off road" environments with plenty of natural obstacles to deal with. Like WipEout, it's a combat racer with deverse weapons that can be picked up from powerup pads. The demo is pretty long and features three tutorials and four races, making for a total of seven playable levels. There are about five or six tracks featured by my count. Most of them located in the desert with the last one being a tropical beach track. Racing uses a simplified control scheme. X accelerates the craft and the left stick turns and pitches it. Weapons are controlled by the L1 and R1 buttons. A charged boost like Episode 1 Racer is also available for a quick speed jump. There's really not much else to say about control. It's pretty easy. I would have preferred the trigger buttons used for acceleration and break for more control but how simplified the races are, you really don't need them. I'd say the game is almost too easy since the AI don't put up much of a fight. Granted it's only the first career level at the easiest difficulty so futher races in game may be more difficult.
For weapons, your main ordinance is magnets, picked up from item pads scattered throughout the course. Magnets stick to a craft slowing them down. They can also stick two craft together. A quick tap of the R2 or L2 buttons rolls the craft and shakes any magnets off. Other weapons include rockets, smoke bombs, a tow cable, magnetic pulse, and an energy pulse. Rockets and energy pulses if fired in reverse can be used as speed boosters. A deflecter shield is also available which provides temporary invincibility from attack. Items are provided randomly though some races may restrict what types are available.
This game also features a multiplayer function which allows up to 8 players online or two can race in split screen. The demo throughs this in as a bonus. I personally think this game would be better against the living than it is against the AI so give it a try next time you're online.

For graphics, the game looks ok. The graphics are kind of blurry and feature a very liberal use of HDR rendering. Given that it's a downloadable title, this isn't too big of a deal but I just can't figure out why so many games appear so blurry while others don't. HDR is also the flavour of the month amoung developers and as I've discussed in the past, it's over used. Your craft look ok though aren't extrodinarily detailed. Some reviews of the full version claimed frame rate issues but I didn't notice any. The sound track is kind of mild and pedestrian unlike WipEout's techno beats. Sound effects are decent but not out of this world.

Fatal Inertial is not exactly fatal but it's a pretty decent game for a downloadable title. The full version costs $40 and is only available on PSN. Is it worth $40? I don't really think so. As I said, it's not bad but it's not great. Remember that Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was $40 when it came out, complete on Blu-ray disc and a lot more features than Fatal Intertia has. Maybe if this game was $20 or even $30 it might be worth it but at it's current price point, it's too expensive.

What Works:
-Good looking tracks
-Simplistic arcade racing
-Long demo with lots of variety
-Multiplayer both online and split screen

What Doesn't Work
-Blurry graphics with too much HDR
-Unimpressive audio
-Can be too easy at times

Score: 7 out of 10

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